Firm introduces prepaid cards, eyes unbanked Pinoys

By Jose Santino S. Bunachita |July 15,2018 - 09:31 PM

WITH government efforts to push for more cashless payments in the next two years, industry players are also doing their own share to promote this trend.

UnionPay International is pushing for their prepaid cards, aside from their credit and debit cards, for more Filipinos to go cashless without putting up with restrictions in having to open bank accounts.

“Our prepaid card account is a very low cost, low entry, and low barrier product option to get into a pseudo-banking environment. You just load the money into your account and keep the money safely there. When you need it, you can withdraw it at an ATM. You can also use it to purchase stuff in a drug store or buy food at some supermarket,” said UnionPay International Deputy General Manager for Southeast Asia Vincent Ling.

He said this is the company’s solution for the Philippines where several limitations are preventing Filipinos from opening their own bank accounts.

Citing data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Ling said only around seven out of ten Filipinos have bank accounts.

On the other hand, the BSP also said that 99 percent of transactions in the country are done through cash.

The BSP is promoting cashless payments to bring it up to 20 percent of all transactions in two years or by 2020.

Ling said they want to contribute to this thrust through their products just like how they did in other countries in the region like Laos and Cambodia where they also partnered with their respective central banks.

In the Philippines, UnionPay has recently partnered with Banco de Oro (BDO), Bank of China (BOC), Omnipay, Philippine National Bank (PNB) and RCBC Bankard where interested consumers can apply for their UnionPay cards.

They have also recently inked a deal with BancNet as another issuer of their cards. At the same time, Ling said they are also looking at partnering with more banks to make the cards more available.

With UnionPay’s prepaid card, customers can open their account with zero maintaining balance and just load it with money, through different stores, loading stations, and payment centers, when you need to use it.

The need for maintaining balance, Ling said, is one of the main concerns they saw as to why a lot of Filipinos remain unbanked.

“This becomes a differentiating factor. It’s interesting because we feel this is an opportunity to increase access to financial products of the 7 out of 10 Filipinos that have no bank accounts,” he said.

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